Recap of Thursday

After spending a restless night in our tent at the Chick-fil-A in Port Arthur, we took our 52 free meals and headed for home. Since we did not get back to the Rice campus until 8:00 AM, we decided to start work at ten o’clock to give us time to prepare for the intense day ahead. We arrived at the Design Kitchen feeling clean, renewed, and ready for anything.

Our fist task was to complete each Pugh Analysis for the four individual pieces that we started at the beginning of the week. This analysis consisted of numerically evaluating nearly 150 ideas, using evaluation criteria we created specifically to illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of each storage design. Once it was complete, we used the numerical valuation of each idea to narrow the available options down to a top ten for each piece.

After we finished the Pugh Analysis, we had to make haste and delegate tasks in order to meet the needs of the demanding day. Caleb revised and edited a powerpoint presentation for a meeting with Julie Bakke and Wynne Phelan of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Nicole and he had created the bulk of the presentation earlier in the week for the Center for Civic Engagement meeting, but the new version was tailored to give deeper insight into our process.

Rhodes had a very challenging task of finishing the financial projections portion of the business plan for the Innovation Norway Course. This document includes the assumptions we made that provided the basis for our financial projections. Some of categories include revenue, expenses, and earnings before interest and tax. Our financial projection section also included graphs of units sold per year and trends of the categories mentioned above.

While Rhodes and Caleb attended the weekly Innovation Norway class, Kristi and Nicole stayed at the Design Kitchen to push forward in the solution phase. Earlier, each person in the team picked two ideas they liked best, regardless of the Pugh Analysis, and start a new idea pot. Each person then added the two best designs from each top ten list to the pot. Nicole and Kristi took the new idea pot and explored the possibilities of each idea. They combined the best features of different ideas and created concepts with full functionality. Kristi masterfully drew pictures of each concept, seven in all.

With the powerpoint ready and the seven concepts drawn, it was time to meet with Chief Registrar, Julie Bakke and Director of Conservation, Wynne Phelan of MFAH. Rhodes and Caleb gave the presentation, and Nicole and Kristi discussed each design. We were very pleased at how well the designs were received by Julie and Wynne! We left at six o’clock with high hopes from their encouragement and enthusiasm of our ideas.

Brainstorming 101

It was time to start brainstorming in the Solution Phase for our project. We had an hour to fill out 100 note cards each. Each card contained ideas or pictures for possible storage solutions. Ideas included both the practical and the hyper-imaginative; from storing art in already existing slat crates to padding it with fluffy clouds. We listened to music while filling out these cards and looked through various idea books to get the creativity flowing. Some of the techniques we applied while brainstorming include: adapting ideas, subtracting ideas, combining ideas, and using opposite ideas.

When the hour was up and our cards were flush with open-minded innovation, we mixed our cards up and divided them amongst ourselves. Then we looked through the stack of everyone’s ideas, writing new ideas that they spawned or elaborating on existing ideas. This exercise allowed our creativity to soar to new heights.  This form of sharing ideas can open minds to new dimensions, new avenues, and new sources of creation. All in all, brainstorming served as a invaluable platform for the work we face ahead.

Team Name Brainstorming

Following our team-building activity and strategy meeting we held a brainstorming session to select a team name. First, we individually took five minutes to write down initial ideas on a piece of paper. Second, we verbally shared those ideas with the group. We used those ideas as solutions or to cultivate new ideas, writing each on the dry-erase board. After throwing out the least desireable names, at the end of the brainstorming session we were left with the following names:

  • Inno-Crate
  • Sculpto-Cradle
  • TexoSkeleton
  • ArtArmor
  • ModPod
  • Artadillo

Because it was so hard to decide on a finalized name, we decided to toy with a conglomeration of various names. In the end the result was ARTadillo-Inno-Crate-a-Pod. Catchy right? Well it was a temporary fix.

After researching which domain names were actually available and seeking a name that captured the function of our team, we decided to reconsider ARTadillo-Inno-Crate-a-Pod. We chose a name that is short, simple, and explanatory. The name is ArtArmor.

Brainstorming with a time limit was was not as completely satisfying as we had initially intended though it served as a perfect way to generate many options and as a warmup for the remainder of the week which was spent brainstorming for solutions to the project.

EDAAC Elevator Pitch: Version 1

After listening to a myriad of 90-second elevator pitches at the Rice Alliance Life Science Technology Venture Forum, we decided to create a pseudo-pitch of our own. Elevator pitches are meant to grab the attention of perspective investors, employees, or collaborators by offering a unique solution to an irresolute problem. Successful presenters provide business plans and goals their companies seek to achieve. We wrote our pseudo-pitch as if we were a pre-seed company seeking funds to fuel our developing idea. 

The Crown Jewels of England—the desk of Stephen F. Austin—The Thinker Statue—what do each of these priceless pieces have in common? The need for superior long-term storage solutions.

EDAAC’s new line of products will actively set a new standard for storage solutions in museums worldwide.

Currently wooden boxes are constructed and custom fit to each individual piece. When the item is on display, these boxes are discarded because they take up too much space. These custom-built boxes are both monetarily costly and time expensive. Our collapsible storage boxes are created from recycled materials and save space, time, and money by paying for themselves over the course of three years—saving each museum thousands of dollars/year thereafter.

We have tested the market by conducting field searches and interviews with preparators and registrars at one of the finest museums in the US. They are enthusiastic about revolutionizing the museum storage industry, and their feedback has given specific insight into what features these boxes should possess.

Our management team consists of the Chief Registrar and Conservator, PhD’s from the Rice Engineering Department, and President David W. Leebron. Our concepts have been protected as intellectual property of Rice University. We are seeking seed funds in the amount of $500,000 to create our first line of Owl Pak boxes. Join us, as the Owl Pak soars to new heights in the realm of preventive conservation. Thank You.

Team Mission Statement

As a stepping stone in the engineering design process, we recently developed our team mission statement:

“Advancing preventive conservation by designing, developing, and implementing superior storage solutions that meet the needs of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “

Selection of Art Works for Conservation

Today we were given a list of priceless artifacts from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Though these three-dimensional artifacts range from the last quarter of the 17th century to modern art, they all have one thing in common: the need for quality storage solutions. We decided to tackle a total of five pieces. One piece we decided to tackle as a large, team project that presents a significant challenge. The four smaller pieces will be managed by a team leader who will master the issues surrounding the artifact’s material composition.

For the large team project we will be working on a piece by Antonio Berni, an Argentinean artist. Created in 1964, La sordidez is the largest piece selected in physical dimension, at a staggering 400 centimeters long. It is made from a variety of material including wood, steel, cardboard, roots, and enamel.

Rhodes Coffey will be the project manager for the storage of a marble bust called, Portrait of a Gentleman, created by the workshop of Gian-Lorenzo Bernini that dates back to the end of the 17th century. Caleb Brown will be overseeing a storage solution for, Head of a Child, a wax and plaster sculpture by Medardo Rosso created in 1892. Kristi Day selected Aster 350 T12/5000K, a fragile piece made of fluorescent lighting by Thomas Glassford in 2001. Nicole Garcia will be focusing on a paper dress designed by Ginger Owen-Murakami in 2007-08 called History Dress #1.

These pieces were selected based on the diversity of the materials used to create them, the age of the artifact, and the way they rest or hang. We have decided that everyone will work on each piece under the direction of the designated project manager for that piece. This will ensure that each piece’s specific needs are addressed adequately in the overall design of our storage solution.

EDAAC Internship Description

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and the School of Engineering at Rice University have selected four students, Kristi Day, Caleb Brown, Nicole Garcia, and Rhodes Coffey, for the 2009 summer internship. We will be working with Dr. Matthew Wettergreen of Caroline Collective and Dr. Maria Oden, Professor of Engineering Education, on a multi-disciplinary collaborative design project with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH). Our project is to develop custom storage solutions for priceless works from the museum’s permanent collection and to establish a curriculum for a course that will be taught at Rice in the fall, adapting our multidisciplinary approach to solve other community problems.

Our first step will be to gain a better understanding of the unique challenges that exist in the field of conservation through vigorous research. We will examine all aspects of the problem to identify challenges we will encounter throughout the design process. We will also be attending talks and lectures from conservators and experts in the field, some of which work at the MFAH, to see real world conservation in action and to understand more of the real world problems faced by preventative conservation. Finally, we will be working with actual artifacts from MFAH and constructing effective storage solutions for those pieces. 

Other important aspects of this project include working as a team, and having input from other groups. In order to ensure that we are working together as best we can and to foster creative thinking, we will participate in daily team building exercises. The Rice Center for Civic Engagement will be facilitating our relationship between Rice and the outside world. We will attend weekly meetings where we will have a chance to hear from community members as well as other students who share our title of Center for Civic Engagement Fellows. Here we will learn about their different projects, as well as provide up-to-date information about ours. During the summer, we will also be enrolled in the Innovation Norway course taught by Dr. Brad Burke of Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship in the Jones School of Management in order to gain a better understanding of business and entrepreneurship practices.
As a multi-disciplinary project, we will be utilizing a digital workflow process that incorporates several online tools. Our website,, will showcase all of the work that we complete along with daily posts about team-building activities and pertinent media. Within the digital workflow process, several websites will be employed to organize and publish our ongoing work. Delicious will be used to organize online bookmarks, a wiki page will be used to brainstorm and organize team thoughts, and Dropbox and Google docs will be needed for document sharing. Youtube and Vimeo will be used to store videos of the process while Flickr will be used to store pictures. The goal of the digital workflow process is to more efficiently manage our ideas and resources while also displaying our final results in a more visible spectrum to those interested. For more information about digital workflow, see our post.

Digital Workflow

As a multi-disciplinary project, we will be utilizing a digital workflow process that incorporates several online tools.  Within the digital workflow process, several websites will be employed to organize and publish our ongoing work. These tools will lead to the documentation of solidified knowledge or actions on our website. Our website will showcase all of the work that we complete along with daily posts about team-building activities and pertinent media.

The components of digital workflow that we will be utilizing for our project include:

(1) Communication will take form through skype or gmail. This communication is important for instant relay of information between team members. Skype, Gmail.

(2) Document storage will occur at dropbox and google documents. Document storage allows us to access various documents and research information from anywhere.

(3) Digitial bookmarking will take place at and we will be sending out pertinent links via Delicious allows us a place to share the relevant information within the websites that we have accessed and found pertinent to our research. Digg allows us to share our research and progress with readers on the web.

(4) Picture storage will take place at

(5) video storage will take place at and
Youtube and Vimeo

(6) Scheduling, vital for meeting goals and deadlines, will be organized on google calendar.

(7) For team brainstorming, storage of information, and collaboration, a wiki page will be utilized via the website.

Digital workflow is a good tool for collaboration, efficient organization, and shared research. The goal of the digital workflow process is to more effectively manage our ideas and resources while also displaying our final results in a more visible spectrum to those interested conservators and engineers on the internet. We have chosen to use digital workflow because it will not only allow us to meet our project goals, but also to reach out to a public audience.

By documenting all of our steps in this endeavor, we are making it possible for others to reproduce our process in engineering design, teamwork, and a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Team Building Exercise: Stepping Stone and Blind Polygon

I. The morning started out with a warm-up exercise called “Stepping Stones.”


Place five sheets of paper, spaced approximately two feet apart, in a straight line. One person stands on one single sheet of paper. Four out of the five sheets are occupied, leaving the sheet in the middle empty. The object is for each person to reach the opposite side using as few moves as possible. Each step consists of one person moving one space or one person skipping over another person to an empty spot. The game is over when each member has successfully reached the opposite side.

Our Strategy:

Here is a sample grid:    a(1)  b(2)  x(3)  c(4)  d(5)

c moves to (3), b skips c and moves to (4), a moves to (2), c jumps a and moves to (1), d jumps b and moves to (3), b moves to (5), a jumps d and moves to (4), d moves to (2). This took a total of eight moves.

Impressions: We did it once and found out our process was incorrect. We reset and made the successful, second attempt. One of our first things was that we had to actually leap frog to complete a “skip”, but actually we were graciously allowed to walk around the person instead. It was a good exercise to begin the morning: quick and engaging.

II. The first “real” exercise began with blindfolds for each of the four people and a ten foot length of string. The task assigned was to create a square with each person as one of the points.

Our Strategy:

We first found where the two ends of the string were and one person joined them to make one big loop. Verbal communication allowed us to determine where we were in relation to one another and to establish an equal distance between each of the four points. The last thing we did was to tighten the slack that was in the rope.

Impressions: We were silent for a long period of time while each of us thought about possible solutions. Finally we quit waiting for someone else to lead and each began speaking out. It would have been more pressing if we had been given a time limit to begin with.

III. The last exercise was similar to the second: we were all still blindfolded and had a single string, except we were to create an equilateral triangle.

Our Strategy:

One person took the entire string (which was tied at both ends), and folded the length to make three equal segments. She then held one point and passed the other two off to two other players. Holding the points on the string, we spread out until the string was tight. We established a triangle, and the fourth person who was not holding the string walked around the triangle to measure the length of each side (one could use the length of an arm or arm-span).

Impressions: Since we had already done activity II, there was no real hesitation this time. The strategy of folding paid off!

Blind Polygon Activity

Blind Polygon Activity